Die Matrosenlied: "Wir fahren gegen Engeland!" So kiss a girl one last time, because the grey seas and iron guns of England wait for Frisian and Saxon sailor boys, too young to know that the task to which the Grand Admiral calls them is beyond their strength.
And deeply evil, of course. God, there are a lot of Nazis on Youtube. But those Wagner-worshipping assholes certainly brought their special touch to the "siege of England." They didn't win the war, because Gotterdammerung is not about winning, but they did manage to blight the United Kingdom's recovery from the stresses of war and muddy the Keynesian waters.
At least, that's the preliminary takeaway. In both New World and Old, war brought massive spending and a huge uncompensated skills transfer, with consequences that were very different from one hemisphere to the next, and in fact between the United States and Canada. The surge in the birth rate that would come to be called the Baby Boom is detectable in the United States in 1944, suggesting (to me, but what do I know?) that it was triggered by the earliest phases of rearmament. In Canada it becomes detectable in 1945, when the men of the corvette navy returned. In the United Kingdom, the moment was right for austerity and a return to rationing.
Alan Allport, concluding his somber look at demobilisation in the UK, calls out the lack of a British GI Bill. I'm a little torn about this conclusion, which seems to me to take a far too utilitarian view of postsecondary education. Of skills transfer the United Kingdom was not short in 1946. For a bit of university finish to add to that, the finish has to be something more than additional skills transfer. We have an account of what that might be (Pierre Bourdieu shout-out!), but to follow down that road, we need to have a clearer understanding about how the North American university system reproduces social class. Does it work, or does it just seem to work when the population is growing enough to make more room at the top?
Put it another way: was the siege enough to stop a British baby boom? That's the framing question, to me, because I think that it's the boom that's going to turn out to be important. Now it's time to put the historian of technology hat on, and recycle some material that I never got around to pushing into the submission process. I've cleaned up the thing a little bit, and, as usual, lost most of the time I meant to save by using it, and that's why the footnotes are out of order and in some cases messed up. Which is too bad, because the whole thing is mainly worth saving for the footnotes. Skip the words and scroll down to the bottom if you're interested in that sort of stuff, by all means.